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STUDYING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN THE UK

The fact that Britain is at the leading edge of IT development has been underlined by the decision in June 1997 by Microsoft to open a 50 million pound research laboratory at Cambridge University and launch a £10 million package to start-up companies in what promises to be Britain’s own ‘Silicon Valley’.

The new Microsoft campus is intended to foster links between industry and the university, which academic research suggests could be key to promoting technological innovation and long-term growth.

As far as the study of IT is concerned at British educational institutions, there is a huge variety of courses both to home and international students.

Bristol University is one of Britain’s most prestigious universities and is located in one of Britain’s most attractive and historic cities. The university has recognised that Computer Science is developing at an extraordinary speed with its scope and influence being felt in all areas of life.

Therefore a strong commitment has been made by Bristol to develop its own programmes and facilities in order to take account of the changes and to play a role in shaping future developments in partnership with industry.

The Computer Science curriculum at Bristol has recently undergone a complete revision to match the needs of both the students and their future employers.

As an indication of this awareness of the need to move ahead with developments in the IT field, a new course for 1999 is Mathematics for Intelligent Systems which will use mathematics for problem-solving in industrial applications and exploiting computer power for tackling real world problems.

The course focuses on information-based technologies and specialises in computing, artificial intelligence and knowledge engineering.

Another highly regarded and popular university is the University of Manchester. Manchester is a big city with a compact and friendly city centre, modern and hi-tech with a proud history and fascinating architectural heritage. It prides itself on being a trendsetting music and style capital which still has a place for traditional street markets and local pubs.

The university has an international reputation for Information Systems. As provider of the University’s computing facilities, Manchester Computing is at the forefront of computing technology and, via an extensive campus-wide Ethernet network, provides access to a wide range of information services within departments, on the University Campus, and on a national and international level.

Manchester’s Department of Computer Science also has an international reputation for both teaching and research. The Higher Education Funding Council for England graded the experience of students on the degree programmes as excellent, and annually the computing department receives more applicants than any other computer science department in the UK.

The department welcomes applications from foreign students, although candidates must be proficient in the use of the English language. The minimum acceptable level of proficiency for admission to most programmes in Cambridge Certificate at grade C or above or an IELTS of average score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in any one component.

Many academic qualifications are acceptable for entry, the range of offers for individual degree programmes for students holding the International and European Baccalaureate is between 26 and 33 points in six subjects. The offer for the EB is in the range of 60% to 80%, depending on the programme.

London of course is always the popular choice for study with both British and international students, and one of the most highly regarded seats of learning is University College, London (UCL).

A quarter of UCL’s students come from overseas - more than 130 countries are represented - and they are welcomed for the different perspective they can bring to discussion and learning. International students must demonstrate an adequate level of proficiency in English before being accepted by the College.

Students can also improve their English at The Language Centre at UCL.

Not to be ignored when considering excellent courses in Information Technology in Britain are those at the ‘new’ universities such as Bournemouth, Bristol (University of the West of England), Greenwich and Portsmouth.

These universities have developed out of the highly regarded Polytechnics and offer a wide range of applied courses. In many instances the entry requirements are lower than at the older, more well known universities.

For instance, Bournemouth offers both an HND and degree course in Business Information Technology as well as more unusual courses such as a degree in Computer Visualisation and Animation, and also a degree in Multimedia Communications.

This latter degree focuses upon the integration of high speed, world-wide communication systems and fast processing techniques coupled with advances in human-computer interface technology and software.

Portsmouth University offers an interesting departure from the usual Computing degree courses in the Degree in Information Technology and Society.

This is a social science degree and its roots are in the academic and intellectual traditions of the humanities and social sciences, providing a framework for the study of social change in the late twentieth century.

It differs from other degrees in the social sciences in the way it identifies information technology as a major force for promoting the re-structuring of socio-economic and political structures and relationships.

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